Put on a heartworm-test magic show for clients

Put on a heartworm-test magic show for clients

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Sep 01, 2010
By dvm360.com staff

A few years ago, I attended a veterinary conference in which a practice management expert informed the audience that we were failing to impress our clients with the level of technology in our portable ELISA devices: heartworm tests, feline leukemia virus tests, and the like.

By simply saying, "The heartworm test was negative," she explained, we failed to make the point that there was some really fascinating science going on inside that little plastic box.

Instead, she recommended we say something like, "The blue dot at the top of the device is a control test, and it indicates that the device performed the test correctly. The absence of any other dots indicates that the test was unable to find any evidence of heartworms in Fluffy's blood, and thus the test is negative. That's good."

After using her suggestion for some time, we decided to add an impress-the-client step at the beginning, too. As we perform the test in the examination room, we tell the client, "We're putting three drops of blood in this high-tech heartworm test and in 10 minutes we'll have an answer." Almost universally, the client's response is, "Wow! That's neat!"

As doctors, we know how an ELISA test works, and we've had portable desktop units in our practices for years. Still, even we have to admit that they're magic. And we should share that magic with our clients.

— Dr. James W. Randolph
Animal General Hospital;
Long Beach, Miss.

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